PATIENTS’ plights have been laid bare in a shock new survey which revealed 17 per cent of residents attempting to secure a GP appointment failed to do so.
NHS England statistics revealed 40,438 people who attempted to book in with their GP in June were forced to wait more than a month, while 27 per cent of all appointments are held over the phone.
When the Conservatives entered government in 2010, they scrapped the guarantee of a GP appointment within 48 hours - something which has irked Labour MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock.
“I have been contacted by many desperate constituents who are unable to get a GP appointment,” she told the Chronicle.
“The government is failing local people and people deserve better than this.
“We need more GPs here in Barnsley and across the country.
“A Labour government will give the NHS what it needs to see people on time, as opposed to the Conservative government that consistently over promises and under delivers.”
Critics have cited some doctors’ alleged reluctance to see people in-person due to the pandemic, while those who have been unable to secure a face-to-face appointment have instead turned to Barnsley Hospital’s A and E department, forcing a knock-on impact on its response times.
A and E’s four-hour target - which the NHS want 95 per cent of patients to be seen by - fell way short of that in June and just 63 per cent of Barnsley attendees were assessed in the timeframe.
Over the 12 years of Conservative government since then, public satisfaction with GP services has fallen from 77 per cent in Labour’s last year in government, to just 38 per cent now, the lowest level since the survey began in 1983, according to Ms Peacock.
“The government has admitted it is failing to meet its manifesto pledge to recruit more GPs,” she added.
“Under the Conservatives, the number of GPs is falling and hundreds of GP practices have closed since the 2019 general election.
“As a result, many ‘GP appointments’ held today are not with a GP.”
Overworked staff on the emergency department first implored people to stay away unless absolutely necessary late last year - as more than ten times as many people faced long waits for treatment than at the pandemic’s start.
The figures show 9,323 people went through the doors at Barnsley A and E last September, 2,781 of which waited longer than four hours.
That number is almost double what it was a year prior, when 1,413 of 7,605 were left waiting for four hours.
MP Wes Streeting, Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Patients are finding it impossible to get a GP appointment when they need one.
“The Conservatives have closed hundreds of practices since the 2019 election and are breaking their manifesto promise to hire more GPs.
“Labour will recruit and retain the staff the NHS needs to treat patients on time.”